“The regime wants to put out the last candle of the Algerian press”, protested the lawyer Mostefa Bouchachi. Algerian justice has decided to strike hard. This Sunday, March 26, the public prosecutor at the Sidi M’Hamed court in Algiers requested a five-year prison sentence for journalist Ihsane El Kadi, detained since December 24. He also demanded a fine of ten million dinars (€68,200) targeting Interface Médias, the company created by the journalist, publisher of the news sites Radio M and Maghreb Emergent, which have been sealed for three months. . The verdict is expected on April 2.
Ihsane El Kadi, his lawyers and those around him were very pessimistic before the trial. On February 24, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune publicly called the journalist a “khabardji” (informant) on television, a humiliating term meaning “agent in the pay of foreign forces” which was used during colonization. “Ihsane El Kadi is the victim of personal relentlessness on the part of the president”, notes one of his relatives.
Algeria elected to UN Human Rights Council
Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, was concerned about this on March 13, during an interview with President Tebboune. In his statement to the press, he stressed the “particular responsibilities” incumbent on Algeria in terms of the protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of the press and freedom of expression, while Algeria has just be elected to the UN Human Rights Council.
The journalist’s case and the problem of freedom of expression in Algeria were also the subject of a closed session in the European Parliament on 21 March.
Considering himself already condemned by the president, Ihsane El Kadi declared before the court that the conditions for a fair trial were not met, that there was violation of his presumption of innocence and violation of the independence of Justice. As a result, he decided to keep silent from now on, reports his entourage. For Mr. Bouchachi, “whether he speaks or does not speak would not change anything, there was no other option than to go to a break-up trial”.